Warm and Toasty Inside

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It’s snowing outside today. We don’t get a lot of the white stuff where I live. For some reason it’s put me in the mood to make my favorite stew for dinner and tomato soup for lunch. And I’m also in the mood to share. These are easy recipes because I don’t have time for complicated. :) As you’ll see, most of the ingredients are spices. :)

Beef Stew

2 lbs stew meat

2 onions peeled quartered

5 peeled potatoes cut into bite-sized chunks

baby carrots (as many as you want)

2 cartons of beef broth

Spices (these can vary depending on what you like)

2 tsp salt (1 if using sea salt) (salt to taste after it’s cooked)

1 tsp cumin

1 tbs pepper

2 tsp garlic powder

You can make this stew two ways. If you need it fast, throw everything in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Lower temp so that it’s still bubbling but not over the pot and cook for about 30 mins or until veggies are softened. If you cook it this way, I suggest browning the meat first in a little butter and then adding everything else. The longer you can cook it, the more tender the meat will be. I also suggest using new potatoes in the on stove version as they cook a bit faster.

My favorite way to cook it is in the crock pot. Takes 5-7 hours but it’s really good this way. Just dump all the dry ingredients into the crockpot and add the broth. If you want it to cook slower (maybe while you’re at work), just cook it on low. I usually add a bit more cumin and garlic to the crock pot version. We usually serve it with french bread or whatever rolls we have in the fridge. If you want a really rich broth, substitute two cans of french onion soup for one of the cartons of beef broth. Yummers.

TOMATO SOUP

This recipe is taking canned or carton tomato soup and making it taste homemade. The tricks to use depend on the kind of tomato soup you start with.

Canned: Two cans of condensed tomato soup: Add 2 cups of milk (or half and half if you want to go crazy with the richness), 1tbs of butter, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp of curry powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, (salt if needed sometimes canned soups are salty already) 1 tbs of pepper. Heat ingredients until everything is heated through. Depending on how many cans you are using, you can vary the amount of the spices. Start with the minimum and then add to taste.

Carton: The only change here, is you usually just need half a cup of milk. Depends on the size carton you use. If it’s already creamy tomato soup usually, the half cup will do. Then add the butter and spices. We love to serve the tomato soup with grilled cheese done in the frying pan with just a bit of butter.

If you want to get really schmancy you can sprinkle some feta on top or blue cheese crumbles. And if you like your soups with a bit of kick, add a tsp of cayenne. It will help with your sinuses.

Stay warm! And feel free to share your favorite keeping it warm winter recipes with us.

-C

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About Candace Havens

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous, Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes. Her new venture is writing for the Blaze line of Harlequin. Those books include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. Her books have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1800 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association.

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